Schiff, born in Adams, Massachusetts, is a graduate of Phillips Andover Academy preparatory school, and earned her B.A. degree from Williams College in 1982. She was a Senior Editor at Simon & Schuster until 1990. Her essays and articles have appeared in, among other places, The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Times Literary Supplement. She is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review, which noted that she has been "regularly praised for both her meticulous scholarship and her witty style." (October 24, 2008)
Schiff won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Vera, her biography of Vera Nabokov, wife and muse of Lolita and Pale Fire author Vladimir Nabokov. She was also a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Saint-Exupéry: A Biography of Antoine de Saint Exupéry.
Schiff's A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (2005) won a number of awards and was published in the U.K. under the title Dr. Franklin Goes to France. Discussing the book, Ron Chernow wrote "Even if forced to at gunpoint, Stacy Schiff would be incapable of writing a dull page or a lame sentence." Gordon S. Wood hailed the book as "Stunning. A remarkably subtle and penetrating portrait of Franklin and his diplomacy."
In July 2006, Schiff wrote a story about Essjay in the New Yorker magazine.
Schiff's most recent biography, Cleopatra: A Life, was published by Little, Brown and Company in November 2010, reached number 3 on the The New York Times Best Seller list and garnered extraordinary reviews. The Wall Street Journal's critic wrote, "Stacy Schiff does a rare thing; she gives us a book we'd miss if it didn't exist." Rick Riordan declared Cleopatra "impossible to put down;" The New Yorker termed it "a work of literature;" Michael Korda called it "a masterpiece;" Tina Brown declared it read "almost like a novel in its juicy literary flair;" Maureen Dowd found it "captivating;" Simon Winchester predicted the book would become a classic.
Awards and honors
- National Endowment for the Humanities, fellowship
- Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers, New York Public Library, Director's Fellow,
- John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, fellowship
- 1995 Pulitzer Prize, finalist, Saint-Exupéry: A Biography
- 2000 Pulitzer Prize, Vera
- 2006 Academy Award in Literature, American Academy of Arts and Letters
- 2006 Gilbert Chinard Prize, A Great Improvisation
- 2006 George Washington Book Prize, A Great Improvisation
- 2006 Ambassador Book Award (American Studies), A Great Improvisation
- 2010 EMMA Award for journalistic excellence, "Who's Buried in Cleopatra's Tomb?"
- 2011 Library Lion by the New York Public Library
- 2011 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography, Cleopatra
- 2012 Phillips Academy Alumni Award of Distinction
- 2012 The French-American Foundation Vergennes Achievement Award
- 2013 Honorary Doctor of Letters from Williams College
- 2014 BIO Award, Biographers International Organization
- 2015 Newberry Library Award
- Schiff, Stacy (2005). A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0-8050-6633-0.
- (Winner of the George Washington Book Prize in 2006)
- (Published in the UK as Schiff, Stacy. Dr Franklin Goes to France. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. ISBN 0-7475-6923-1.)
Selected essays and articles
- "Desperately Seeking Susan." New York Times, October 13, 2006.
- Schiff, Stacy (2007-10-14). "Founding Chauvinist Pig?". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- "Cleopatra's Guide to Good Governance." New York Times, December 4, 2010
- Eternal Flame (review of Country Girl, a Memoir, by Edna O'Brien . ." New York Times, May 10, 2013
- The Interactive Truth . ." New York Times, June 15, 2005
- Camp Stories (review of Nathan Englander's What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank) New York Times Sunday Book Review, February 16, 2012 
- "Barnes&Noble Meet the Writers: Stacy Schiff".
- "News about Stacy Schiff, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times". New York Times.
- Suellen Stringer-Hye (1999). "An interview with Stacy Schiff". The Pennsylvania State University.
- "Leon Levy Center for Biography". City University of New York. 10 December 2010. Archived from the original on 9 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- Kate Taylor (2010-12-10). "Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra: skilled political operator, not sex goddess". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
- "ALOUD: Lectures, Readings, Performances, & Discussions (Los Angeles Central Library)".
- "1995 Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes – Columbia University.
- "2000 Winners". The Pulitzer Prizes – Columbia University.
- "Ben Franklin's French Adventure: George Washington Book Prize Celebration Honors Author Stacy Schiff". Washington College. 2006.
- Official Website
- "An Interview with Stacy Schiff" by Suellen Stringer-Hye, published in April 1999 by Random House.
- Q&A interview with Schiff, November 6, 2011
- Interview with Schiff on "New Books in Biography"
-  New York Times Topics Page on Stacy Schiff